Marc Stein @ESPNSteinLine 3m
Story going online now from @IanBegley & I: ESPN sources say Knicks, challenging as it sounds, have begun exploring J.R. Smith trade options
While they realize it may be difficult to pursue, the New York Knicks have begun to explore the potential trade market for guard J.R. Smith in recent days, ESPN.com has learned.
Sources close to the situation said Wednesday that the organization has become increasingly frustrated with Smith's on and off-court transgressions and increasingly feel that a fresh start might be best for all parties.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson says he'll have a conversation with J.R. Smith about the shooting guard's recent antics.
Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for "recurring instances of unsportsmanlike conduct" following his shoelace stunts in the New York Knicks' past two games.
Wednesday's fine didn't necessarily push the Knicks over the top, but one source with knowledge of the Knicks' thinking said the organization has become "fed up" with Smith's erratic behavior.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson hinted at that frustration Wednesday when he called Smith's conduct "unacceptable" in an interview later Wednesday with ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show."
"I'm not happy about this, because he was warned, he comes back and he makes the same mistake, and it's not right," Woodson said. "It's just got to stop. I keep saying this every time something pops up, but it's got to stop."
The coach later added that Smith has been "unprofessional about how he's approached this whole thing. Something's gotta be done. It has to stop. I'll address it tomorrow when I see him, and then we'll go from there."
Due to the nature of his contract, Smith cannot be traded prior to January 15. The Knicks, furthermore, privately acknowledge that it will be difficult in the current climate to trade Smith, who has two seasons left after this one on a three-year, $18 million contract.
The 28-year-old underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in the offseason. Smith then missed training camp following surgery, with Woodson saying recently that the shooting guard is still dealing with soreness in his knee.
Smith's scoring is down markedly from last season. He is shooting just 32.3 percent from the field and is averaging 11.3 points per game in 29 games. Last season, Smith won the NBA's Sixth Man Award last season after scoring 18.1 points and pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game.
The reality, though, is that Smith's on and off-court transgressions -- combined with his declining production -- figure to complicate any efforts to move him.
In addition to Wednesday's fine, Smith was suspended for the first five games of the regular season without pay for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy in the offseason. And in November, Smith was fined $25,000 for sending what the NBA deemed a "hostile" tweet to Detroit's Brandon Jennings after Jennings questioned the credentials of Smith's brother, Chris, a former Knicks guard.